02/14/2018 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 02/14/2018 17:12
WASHINGTON, Feb. 14 - Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), a national leader in efforts to increase affordable housing, welcomed a decision by Federal Housing Finance Agency Director Mel Watt to continue funding for the National Housing Trust Fund - which provides hundreds of millions of dollars each year to expand affordable rental housing nationwide.
Sanders first introduced legislation to create the National Housing Trust Fund in 2001, based largely on the success of the Vermont Housing and Conservation Trust Fund. After a 15-year effort, in 2016, the National Housing Trust Fund became the first new federal affordable housing program in several decades. Administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, it is funded through a small percentage of revenues from the government-sponsored housing agencies, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
The recently passed Republican tax plan, however, will likely cause a one-time loss for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac - and a possible suspension of funding for the Housing Trust Fund. Sanders' office has been in close contact with the Federal Housing Finance Agency, urging continued support for the fund.
'At a time when millions of families are struggling to keep a roof over their heads, we desperately need to provide affordable housing to Vermonters and people throughout the country,' Sanders said. 'That's what the National Housing Trust Fund is all about and I applaud the decision by the Federal Housing Finance Agency to keep funding it.'
According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, more than 8.1 million extremely low-income households, including more than 10,500 in Vermont, spend more than half of their income on rent and utilities. 'When you spend half of your money on rent, that leaves very little for other necessities such as food and medicine,' Sanders said.
For each of the past two years, the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board (VHCB) received $3 million from the Housing Trust Fund to help provide decent, safe and affordable housing for extremely low-income families here in Vermont. VHCB has used those funds to finance critically important projects in Randolph, Rutland, Brattleboro, Poultney, Burlington, Putney and Marshfield.
Sanders said he was cautiously optimistic that Vermont will again receive $3 million this year.